Why you’d want an Audi TT (Mk1)
Based on a shortened VW Golf 4motion platform and aimed squarely at the Porsche Boxster market, the TT was a brilliant derivation of the hatchback. It featured four-wheel drive and a choice of 1.8 turbo engines at first, later joined by a 3.2-litre narrow-angle V6.
Great looks and 2+2 Coupé or two-seat Roadster bodies were combined with Boxster-beating performance. Autocar was impressed, describing it as ‘one of Audi’s most engaging machines in recent times… a handling sensation next to its other performance cars… more alive than any Audi we’ve driven since the original quattro’.
The TT soon proved to be more popular in Britain than anywhere else and the range of options increased to include front-wheel-drive Roadster and Coupé with 150PS or 180PS, plus Coupé and Roadster quattro with 180PS, 225PS or 3.2 V6 250PS.
The 225 Coupé quattro was by far the top seller and is generally regarded as the best affordable model today, the V6s and (in particular) the rare lightened 240PS Sport commanding a significant price premium.
Front-drive versions sold in relatively small numbers and came with five-speed ’boxes instead of the six-speed unit of quattros and the sophisticated Direct Shift Gearbox (DSG) fitted to most V6s. With standard heated leather seats and a power hood, the Roadster is an appealing way to enjoy fresh air motoring. The TT also became a successful racer, Frenchman Laurent Aïello winning the DTM title in 2002.
An early recall on pre-2000 cars to adjust the suspension, fit ESP electronic stability control and a rear spoiler failed to dampen enthusiasm for the model – and neither did the BBC’s Watchdog programme forcing the maker to replace faulty dashpods free on TTs with complete Audi history. It’s one of the vital checkpoints.
A full service record is highly desirable on all complex modern cars, ideally from main dealers or respected independent specialists. Inspect panel alignment, because poorly repaired accident damage will come back to haunt you.
Be wary of modifications: have they been done well, has the car been thrashed, and what extra stresses are being put on other components?
There should be two keys and an emergency key, plus the radio code. Check that the remote locks and unlocks both doors as well as the bootlid. Also confirm that the warning triangle, jack, tools, compressor and tyre foam are in the boot.
Images: Tony Baker
Audi TT (Mk1): what to look for
See above for trouble spots
The 1.8 engine’s cambelt, tensioner and water pump should be changed before 60,000 miles or six years (Audi said more, but some broke early). Look for oil leaks around the inlet manifold and the injector ports, as well as the cam cover. Well-maintained units exceed 200,000 miles; a misfire is likely to be a failing coil pack.
Wishbone and anti-roll bar bushes can need replacement at 30k miles on a hard-driven car. Knock may be broken a-r bar sleeves; dear to fix. Springs can snap, too.
Damaged alloys are pricey to replace; up to £500 each for original equipment, but The TT Shop produces a set of four 18in replica Sport wheels for just under £600.
Electrical problems are common. Check digital fuel gauge against range readout: c400 = full tank, discrepancy may mean a new dash pod (c£1000) or repair (c£300).
Manual clutches can fail at 60,000 miles; the pedal can break at about the same age unless reinforced. DSG on V6s lasts if the oil is changed every 40,000 miles.
Check for bolster wear; cloth trim was standard on Coupés, although many and all Roadsters came with leather – some in dramatic colours such as silver.
Ensure the hood operates smoothly and, if possible, look for leaks (lift carpets); replacement is costly.
Audi TT (Mk1): on the road
Despite its high output, the Golf ‘four’ is very tunable; 225s have stronger internals than lesser models, but they can still fail if neglected. Less-powerful units may be substituted, so look for a BAM engine code to confirm that it’s a 225.
The naturally aspirated V6 has a timing chain, which is more durable but can stretch by 100,000 miles, causing a ticking sound; replacement costs more than £1000. Also rev the engine and check for blue smoke, indicating wear: watch the nearside exhaust because the offside opens only on the move.
Coolant temperature should reach 90ºC within a couple of miles of starting from cold and stay there – anything else indicates thermostat problems or worse. Hesitancy and excessive smoke are usually due to a failing MAF sensor.
Maintenance might have been skimped on cheap examples, so go through the paperwork carefully. The Haldex (four-wheel drive) oil and filter should be changed every two years.
The DSG is a superb piece of engineering, but pricey if it goes wrong (mechatronic units costing £1250 to rebuild). The six-speed ’box can function as a normal auto or, in Tiptronic mode, be worked sequentially by paddles or by flicking the lever back or forward – or treated as an automatic that changes up only at maximum revs. Try reverse as well, ideally driving in a circle both ways and listening for untoward noises – there shouldn’t be any.
The same test applies to manual transmissions, along with feeling that the clutch bites at the right level and that all gears engage smoothly.
Make sure everything works – aircon, audio alarm – and look for warning lights that stay on.
Audi TT (Mk1) price guide
- Show: £7000
- Average: £4000
- Restoration: £1500
3.2 Coupé Sport
- Show: £9000
- Average: £5000
- Restoration: £2000
- Show: £3500
- Average: £2750
- Restoration: £1000
- Show: £4000
- Average: £3000
- Restoration: £1000
Audi TT (Mk1) history
1995 TT Concept Coupé unveiled at Frankfurt Show and Roadster at Tokyo Show
1998 Sep TT Coupé 2+2 launched, as 180PS (16in wheels, five-speed ’box) or 225PS (17s, 6-speed)
1999 TT Roadster introduced
2000 Mar Recall to fit ESP, uprated front suspension arms and rear spoiler
2000 Sep six-speed gearbox standardised on all 180s and 225s
2001 Nov S-Line 225 Coupé: red or silver, leather seats, 18in alloys, lowered suspension
2002 Jan 18in rims and lowered suspension on all 180s and 225s
2002 Nov Coupé quattro 3.2 V6 added: Direct Shift Gearbox, bigger brakes, different front bumper and rear valance, larger rear spoiler
2003 Apr Roadster 150 (front-wheel drive, five-speed, more boot space) and Roadster quattro 3.2 released
2003 Dec 3.2 available as manual
2004 New front-drive 180, optional Tiptronic ’box
2005 Mar Coupé quattro Sport: 49kg lighter, 240PS (236bhp)
2005 Sep 150PS engine up to 163PS, 180PS to 190PS; 225PS options phased out
2006 Apr TT Mk1 replaced
The owner’s view
“I bought my Roadster from a main dealer in ’03,” recalls owner Mike Edwards. “Initially I was disappointed: it was much more modern and quicker than my old Coupé quattro, and the ability to drop the roof helped, but it somehow wasn’t as nice. 12 years on, I’ve got used to its limitations; it’s surprising how much can be carried in the boot or inside.
“I’ve had the clutch pedal snap; I’ve replaced the rear springs four or five times, and most front suspension bushes and joints – all easy DiY jobs. It has rusty arches on one side, which I assume is down to damage before I bought it. I’m surprised how much of the underside has rusty edges: hard to keep on top of, but largely cosmetic. My roof once lost the ability to open and close, and was repaired by the Audi agent at some cost.”
Slightly outclassed by the TT in drivability, the Alfa rival (also 1.8 ‘four’ to 3.2 V6) oozed character, sounded great and housed a fabulous engine. If heart rules head, you might go for this.
Sold 1993-’04 • No. built 80,747 • Mpg 23-36 • 0-60mph 9.2-6.3 secs • Top speed 130-158mph • Price new £19,715-26,340 (’01) • Price now £3-10,000
A more accomplished sports car, but it’s easy to get caught out with a moneypit in this price range. Intoxicating flat-six sound, plus it’s superb to drive; S reclaimed the performance crown, too.
Sold 1996-’04 • No. built 164,874 • Mpg 25-37 • 0-60mph 6.5-5.7 secs • Top speed 139-165mph • Price new £31,450-38,330 (’01) • Price now £5-15,000
Audi TT (Mk1): the Classic & Sports Car verdict
There’s a wide choice of TT models, so understand them and decide which suits you best before going out to look.
As with any well-built modern, problems are few and, because of tight production tolerances, if there are any faults all examples will suffer them. Beware cheap cars; go for one that’s been well looked after – it will save you thousands in the long run.
- Great Bauhaus looks
- Strong enthusiast following
- Excellent performance and handling
- Good parts and specialist back-up
- Interior is a bit plasticky
- Some have been crudely modified
- Complexity means non-routine jobs are costly
- ‘Bargains’ might have patchy service history
Audi TT (Mk1) specifications
Sold/number built 1998-’06/275,339 (184,041 Coupé)
Construction steel monocoque
Engine iron-block, alloy-head dohc 20v 1781cc ‘four’, Bosch Motronic and KKK K04 turbo, or all-alloy dohc 24v 3189cc V6 with Bosch Motronic; 148bhp @ 5700rpm-246bhp @ 6300rpm; 155lb ft @ 1750rpm-236lb ft @ 2800rpm
Transmission five-/six-speed manual or DSG semi-automatic, Haldex four-wheel drive
Suspension: front MacPherson struts rear double wishbones, coil springs; telescopic dampers, anti-roll bar f/r
Steering power-assisted rack and pinion, 2.8 turns lock-to-lock
Brakes 312mm ventilated discs front, 226mm rear (V6 334/365mm), with servo and anti-lock
Length 13ft 3in (4041mm)
Width 6ft 1in (1856mm)
Height 4ft 5in (1345mm)
Wheelbase 7ft 111/2in (2429mm)
Weight 2816-3505lb (1280-1590kg)
0-60mph 8.6-5.7 secs
Top speed 133-155mph
Price new £24,050-29,000 (2001)